Kelly Brown gives up hope of Scotland recall
Former Scotland captain Kelly Brown admits there is "close to no chance" he will ever pull on a Dark Blues jersey again after conceding Vern Cotter's squad had moved on without him.
The Saracens flanker won 64 caps for his country, 15 as skipper, but has not been selected by the Kiwi head coach in over a year.
He had long retained hope of a return but after being left out of the 31-man World Cup squad, the 33-year-old now concedes his time is almost certainly up.
However, he remained gracious enough to praise John Hardie, the man who has taken his place.
Brown told Press Association Sport: "I would still love to play for Scotland and I never thought I would announce my retirement. But now because I've been dropped there's not much point doing it.
"Let's just see what happens. I'd say, though, that there is close to no chance I'll ever play for Scotland again.
"What makes me say that? Well, the squad has moved on and the guys who have come in are younger than me.
"As a sportsman I've got to keep backing myself, and I do. But at the same time I understand the need for the team to evolve and I accept that.
"It hasn't been fantastic coming to that realisation but every time I played for Scotland I always knew it could be my final time.
"I'm just feel very honoured that I have managed to represent Scotland as much as I did.
"There are very few people who get to leave the international arena as they would choose."
Former head coach Scott Johnson previously admitted Brown needed to improve his physicality if he was to retain his place, and it appears Cotter shares the same concerns.
But Brown admits he cannot argue with the selection of Hardie, the man the SRU drafted in from New Zealand to ultimately act as his long-term replacement.
"John has only played in two matches at this World Cup but he has done well," said Brown.
"There was never any doubt he was a very talented rugby player. All of the question marks about him centred on whether it was right for him to come straight into the squad.
"Everyone will have a different view on that but he has come in, played well and certainly fitted into the Scottish team."
Brown's last outing for the national team was a summer Test with Canada in Toronto last summer.
Since then the Scots have had mixed results but face their biggest challenge of Cotter's leadership on Sunday when they take on Australia at Twickenham for a place in the semi-finals.
They will have to do it without hooker Ross Ford and lock Jonny Gray after both were issued three-week bans for an illegal two-man tip tackle on Samoa's Jack Lam.
But Brown said: "Adversity can be a funny thing. When the Australians went down to 13 men last week against Wales it seemed to inspire them.
"For some teams setbacks just seem to fire them up and give them a siege mentality. So it will be interesting to see what happens for the Scottish side.
"It is always going to be a tough match though. The Australians are probably the form side so it will a big ask for them. As good as Scotland have been in the pool games, this will be another level."
With his Scotland career now in the past, Brown is focusing his attention on retaining the Premiership title his Saracens side claimed last term.
He said: "You can't look too far ahead because it's going to be an incredibly tough year with something like 30 consecutive weeks of very big games.
"We're going to need 40 odd guys to get the job done, so it will be a tough ask but one we're excited about."
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